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Asked and Answered: March 1

Posted Feb 29, 2016

Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

Let’s get to it:

DYLAN BELL FROM MEMPHIS, TN:
What do you think about Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake, and Will Gay? Do you think we should cut them or keep them? I think we can all agree Allen needs to go, but I also think we should cut Blake and Gay. Every game I got to watch they were giving up big plays down the field, while Ross Cockrell and Brandon Boykin (when he got to play) were holding their own.

ANSWER: Well, if you cut everybody, then who would be left on the roster to play the position? There are not an endless number of available players out there to fill all of those spots, let alone players who are better. I agree with you that it’s likely the Steelers part ways with Cortez Allen at some point this offseason. He never has shown he has the combination of mental toughness and physical ability to be a quality starting cornerback in the NFL, and his salary for 2016 is at the level of a quality starting cornerback in the NFL. But your assessment of Blake and Gay as guys always giving up big plays down the field, while Ross Cockrell and Brandon Boykin were holding their own, is inaccurate. Blake and Gay aren’t All-Pros, but Gay is what Allen never has been – a quality NFL starter. Cockrell has some potential, but at one time Cortez Allen was viewed the same way – Allen’s takeaway statistics were better than Cockrell’s – and Boykin has not shown himself to be a starting-caliber cornerback in the NFL. What fans are doing to Boykin is what the Steelers did to Blake, which is overrate him to a degree where his play cannot match the hype and so will lead inevitably to disappointment and criticism.

BEVERLY AIKEN FROM HAMPTON, SC:
Will the Steelers have any coaching changes?

ANSWER: No. And come this point into the offseason, teams have the right to refuse permission for coaches to leave to take other jobs in the NFL.

MARK DUGGER FROM VERONA, NY:
If the team starts a possession at the 20-yard line and loses 10 yards on the first play and then goes on to score, would the length of the scoring drive be calculated from the 20-yard line or from the point where the loss of yardage occurred?

ANSWER: In the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIII, the Steelers had a first-and-10 from their own 22-yard line, with 2:30 left in a game they were trailing, 23-20, to the Cardinals. On the first play, Chris Kemoeatu was penalized for holding, which moved the ball back to the 12-yard line. The Steelers then went on to drive down the field and score the game-winning touchdown on that perfect pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes. That scoring drive went into the record as an eight-play, 78-yard drive. That means the length of the drive was measured from the original line of scrimmage.

BILL RUH FROM VICKSBURG, MI:
I have watched the video of Xiah Zepeda run through the combine drills. My question: do you feel any pressure as a fellow reporter to follow up with your own run through the combine drills?

ANSWER: No, because he didn’t feel any pressure to take a turn at Asked and Answered.

JEFF LINTON FROM MORRISVILLE, PA:
Is it true that Tony Dungy is the only player in modern history to throw an interception and get an interception in the same game?

ANSWER: If your definition of “modern history” is the time since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, then the answer is, yes. In a 1977 game between the Steelers and Houston Oilers, both Terry Bradshaw and Mike Kruczek were injured, and Tony Dungy, a safety by trade, served as the emergency quarterback. In that game, Dungy had an interception and also threw an interception.

SAUVE LOUIS FROM LA PRAIRIE, QC, CANADA:
I'd love to hear your recollection of the first impression you had when Troy Polamalu joined the team. Did he made an immediate impact?

ANSWER: No. In fact, Troy Polamalu had an awful rookie season, with maybe the lowlight being a game in which he allowed an interception to go right through his hands near the goal line only to be caught by an opposing receiver for a touchdown.

JIM SHORTS FROM GREAT FALLS, MT:
If you could put together an all-era team for the Steelers, who would you pick? Bonus: Who would you name team captains?

ANSWER: Last summer, I in fact did pick an All-Modern Era Steelers team, with the Modern Era being defined as 1992-present. The team was made up of 26 players: 11 on offense, 11 on defense, and four specialists. On offense, it was Hines Ward and Antonio Brown as the wide receivers; Dermontti Dawson, Alan Faneca, Maurkice Pouncey, Marvel Smith, and Max Starks along the offensive line; Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback; Heath Miller at tight end; and Jerome Bettis and Le’Veon Bell as the running backs. On defense, it was Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, and Cam Heyward up front; the linebackers were James Farrior, James Harrison, Greg Lloyd, and Joey Porter; Ike Taylor and Rod Woodson were the cornerbacks; and Carnell Lake and Troy Polamalu were the safeties. Josh Miller was the punter; Jeff Reed was the placekicker; Greg Warren was the long-snapper; and Antwaan Randle El was the return specialists. Bonus: I wouldn’t name team captains; I’d let those players vote.

DUSTIN JOHNSON FROM FULLERTON, CA:
Will the Steelers go big in free agency with people like Jared Cook, or will we focus on the draft?

ANSWER: If you have to ask that question, you haven’t been a Steelers fan very long. Do you really think the franchise is going to change one of the core principles it has used to win more Super Bowls than any other team in the NFL?

TIM WHITTINGTON FROM ROSSVILLE, GA:
Is there any chance of moving me from the fan zone to safety during the offseason?

I’m assuming you’re too light for inside linebacker?

 


 

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